Report Launch

We are delighted to announce the launch of our first project report, ‘Measuring the Value of Traditional Retail Markets: Towards a Holistic Approach’, written by Adrian Bua (NEF), Sara González and Myfanwy Taylor (University of Leeds). The briefing paper, which was launched at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Markets Group in November, proposes new ideas to decision-makers for how to measure the holistic economic, social and cultural value of traditional retail markets in the UK.

The latest national survey of market operators and traders provides a newly optimistic and confident perspective on the health of the sector even when high street retail is experience so many pressures. But many of the more traditional retail markets are still struggling while the specialist craft, street food, fashion and events-based markets serving higher-income customers continue to thrive. These traditional retail markets are however particularly important to lower-income, marginalised and vulnerable people, providing access to good quality, healthy and affordable food, opportunities for social interaction, and relatively low-cost and accessible trading.

It is therefore now crucial to equip decision-makers at all levels with the tools and evidence they need to make a holistic case for investment, ensure redevelopment plans of markets enhance economic, social and cultural value and make the most of traditional retail markets’ potential to contribute to a wide range of public policy goals.

Traditional retail markets offer more than a place to buy your daily staples. They’re a place to meet friends and catch up with neighbours. They’re a place for everyone to feel welcome, regardless of where you come from or how much cash is in your pocket. But as an industry we fail to champion this. This report kick-starts a conversation. If we as an industry don’t demonstrate the community value of markets, we risk losing them. The NMTF is behind this project 100% – if you care about markets, you should be too.

Joe Harrison, Chief Executive, NMTF

The briefing – an early output from the research project – brings together existing research and policy efforts in the UK and internationally to measure the social value of markets but crucially it also demonstrates the potential to learn from how other sectors, such as public services, are engaging with this agenda using tools such as local economic multipliers (LM3), calculating the social return on investment and assessing social impact.

The briefing aims to open up a conversation amongst the UK markets sector, the diverse communities which use, rely upon and value markets and the wide range of other organisations and institutions whose goals and concerns markets also serve. This is a broad constituency which should involve decision-makers at all levels in ensuring that the social and cultural aspects of markets are valued alongside economic aspects.

It is increasingly important that we have accurate data demonstrating the value of markets in both the economic and wider social context. The quality of this research, supported by academics and people experienced in the markets industry, will make a valuable contribution to our knowledge and our ability to advance the case of markets.

Graham Wilson OBE, Chief Executive, NABMA

Our research team will be further developing and testing ideas through surveys of 500 customers in three UK traditional retail markets – specifically, Bury Market, Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Grainger Market and Queen’s Market in Newham, east London – in the course of next year.

The full report, ‘Measuring the Value of Traditional Retail Markets: Towards a Holistic Approach’, can be accessed through the New Economics Foundation website at: